July 28, 2012
I have been wanting to build a small guest cabin for quite some time. The plan was to build a small, simple inexpensive cabin that could be moved to another location in the future. I settled on an 11 foot by 15 foot cabin. It will be primitive, no running water or electricity is planned.
I have some lodgepole pine logs that are 18' long that I purchased from a logging outfit two years ago. The cost per log worked out to about $20 each. These logs are very dry so that will minimize twisting and shrinking.
I have a woodmizer LT15 sawmill that I will use to "square" the logs and an old tractor to move them around.

The thickness of the logs (wall thickness) will be 7 inches. I checked the log diameters and most are in the 10-13 inch range at the small end. I could saw all the logs to be the same dimension. If I did that, the height would have to be about 9 inches to work with the smaller diameters. This would work but I really don't want the logs to look identical. With the bandsawmill, it is possible to raise/lower the sawhead while it is being pushed through the log. This way, I can vary the vertical dimension of the log depending on the log size. I will waste less wood this way and will have a more rustic looking cabin. I estimate that after sawing my log height will be up to 10 inches in height. So, I am using jigs that are designed for 7x10 logs and a gap of .25 inches. Where the logs are smaller than 10 inches, there will of course be a larger gap.

I did have a couple of large logs available so I decided to saw out two 7x12 beams for the bottom two logs. These will act as "skids" and will rest on some foundation stones.

The skids only need the top half of the dovetail notch. Normally, a chalkline is snapped down the center of the log face. For the 12 inch tall skids, I snapped the line 5 inches down from the top edge. This way, the excess wood will be on the underside of the skid and won't be crowding the log above.

In the picture below, you can see the skids after notching. The tool is a called a peavey and is indispensible for turning logs. There is a similar tool called a cant hook that performs the same function; however, the peavey has the advantage of the sharp point on the end. This probably has several uses but I find it very handy for stabbing the tool in the ground so that it is within arms reach when needed.

I wan't sure exactly how I wanted to situate the cabin at the site so I built this simple lightweight frame from 1x4s to be the same size as the cabin. I could then move it around until I was happy with the location. I then used it locate the foundation stones. The stones are just some local rock I found on the roadside and hauled over with tractor (Cost: free!)

I leveled the frame using some scrap boards and then used that as a reference to determine the column lengths. (Only one corner of the cabin will bear directly on a rock, the other three will need short lengths of 7x7 columns). 

After the skids were placed and braced, I placed the first two 11' logs. Note how these are not uniform in height. I will show the sawing process in a future posting.

Not bad progress for the first day.

Go on to page 2

Return to How-To Page